100 Climbs Route: Day 1, Guildford to Steyning

Ride level Experienced cyclist
Distance 106 mi / 171 km
Type of bicycle Road bike
Traffic free
Circular route

In August 2018, three Cycling UK members - Dominic Millar, Graham Salisbury and James Findlater – cycled a 3,300-mile, 29-day route around Britain to take on all 100 hills featured in Simon Warren’s book ‘100 Greatest Cycling Climbs’. This route plots day one of the journey, from Guildford to Steyning, taking in the climbs of Leith Hill, White Downs, Box Hill, White Lane, Toys Hill, York’s Hill, The Wall and Ditchling Beacon.

This may only be day one but it’s not a gentle warm-up as it takes in eight – yes, eight! – climb’s from Simon Warren’s book. The start at famed local cyclists’ hang-out Newland’s Corner is simple enough and, on a good day, you’ll be instantly greeted with wonderful views as you ease your way through the Surrey Hills towards the pretty village of Abinger Hammer.

The serenity won’t last as you turn southwards to take on the first challenge of the day: Leith Hill. There’s a brief chance to catch your breath as you head north again, only to be faced with the climb of White Downs towards Ranmore Common. Arguable the South-East’s most famous climb, Box Hill, follows in short order, but that’s a relatively gentle upwards meander by today’s standards.

From here the route heads to the busy towns of Reigate and Redhill and eventually into picturesque Kent, but not before a tough detour to the top of the North Downs and then the climb of White Lane. The village of Westerham offers some good places to find food and drink before taking on the climbs of Toys Hill and York’s Hill. For riders taking a more leisurely pace, there’s plenty to see and do nearby, with Churchill’s home at Chartwell and Hever Castle close to the route.

For climbing fiends, though, the route’s incursion into East Sussex brings with it The Wall between Forest Row and the Ashdown Forest. Then it’s south towards Brighton for a ride up and back down the legendary Ditchling Beacon, before heading west to finish at Steyning. 

Well done – that’s the first day finished - fancy another 28 days of this?